Thursday, February 2, 2012

Up With People

Assuming you'll be watching the Super Bowl halftime show, as opposed to something like the Puppy Bowl, you already know Madonna's going to be the halftime act. As soon as she was announced, the wardrobe-malfunction cracks immediately started flying, to the point where she had to officially deny that any nudity would happen.

This would not be a matter of speculation if the NFL had gone with the most experienced of Super Bowl halftime acts: Up With People.

Founded in 1965, Up With People is an organization that has operated as a singing ensemble consisting of... well, really, you could dance around it with terms like 'positive young people' and 'multinational cast' and 'clean-cut troupe', but really, the best term is 'happy-dappy nonthreatening Glee rejects who are so cheerful it's actually creepy'. Every six months, they assemble a 'cast' and send them off to go inflict cheer on people.

That's what they are now, anyway. They were founded under far cloudier circumstances; they were created in 1965 by the Christian movement Moral Re-Armament, which was in turn founded by Frank Buchman and his 'Oxford Group'. Buchman was as happy-dappy as the Up With People derivation would suggest. This was something of a bad thing, as Buchman, over the course of the late 1930's, was too happy-dappy for his own good. In the pre-Pearl Harbor era of World War 2, as America watched the Germans and Soviets antagonize each other, Buchman backed the wrong horse, meeting with Heinrich Himmler and speaking praise of him and Adolf Hitler.

Further down the timeline, Up With People itself was co-opted by corporate interests during the 60's and 70's, on the theory that if hippie liberals were going from town to town singing happy-dappy songs, they weren't going from town to town singing protest songs and speaking out against the Vietnam War. The group was bankrolled by the same sorts of interests until 2000, by which time they had become a punchline, the corporate interests had pulled the plug, and the fees to join had become so high (so as to make up the difference) as to become prohibitive. Finding alternative funding, they resurfaced in 2004.

Then there were the parts about the cult-like behaviors such as arranged marriages and denials of sex prior to said marriages. But we'll leave that alone.

The place did give some people their start in show business, most notably Glenn Close. But if you ask Close, she will deny it. She absolutely does not want to talk about it. Nor do a lot of the other alumni.

So now that you're sufficiently squicked out, please enjoy the halftime performances of Up With People!

SUPER BOWL X, 1976- Steelers 21, Cowboys 17 (Orange Bowl):

SUPER BOWL XIV, 1980- Steelers 31, Rams 19 (Rose Bowl) (EDIT: I had originally posted a repeat of XVI's show here):

SUPER BOWL XVI, 1982- 49ers 26, Bengals 21 (Pontiac Silverdome):

SUPER BOWL XX, 1986- Bears 46, Patriots 10 (New Orleans Superdome):

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